A/N: Alright so real life has been busy, and a new longform fic has grabbed me by the balls and refused to let go until it's completely written SO expect that in a month or two _ Anyway, I scrounged up some drabbles I'd written from a while back-nowhere near the length I'd like to post here for you guys, but an update is an update, amirite? 8D I hope you enjoy this weeny installment and keep a lookout for my next story!

Scene: ME3, Shepard considers Garrus' appearance on two separate occasions.

It's all that armor, Shepard thinks as she watches Garrus cross the corridor from the main battery to the mess hall. The reinforced plating, the cylindrical look of the cowl, the sheer bulk of it—even the silver weaving in and out of the blue adds to the aura surrounding the failed C-Sec cop-cum Omega vigilante-cum Reaper Advisor. Her crew gives deep nods to the turian as he passes them, his two-toed boots clanking against the floor. She blames not a one for their deference. He certainly isn't a sight for sore eyes despite the scarring.

The height just makes the whole effect worse. As bad a turian as Garrus professes to be, that does nothing to stunt his exemplary height and how he towers over every person on the Normandy, turning his head this way and that, the sweep of his fringe giving him that aggressive silhouette others have already commented on in hushed whispers. Shepard gets it, her turian sharpshooter's an imposing specimen, an apex predator, an unstoppable killing machine.

What the others don't see, though, is Garrus in her cabin, stripping off his armor piece by piece until the gauntlets and the leg guards and the chestplate all lie crumpled in a messy heap next to the couch as he sinks down onto the bed without a single stitch of clothing on him, letting the ceiling lights cast shadows between the grooves of his plates that—contrary to popular belief—aren't rough at all, but smooth and firm, like what skin is supposed to feel like, fever-hot against her hands and just as vulnerable to touch as that of any human. They don't see him long-limbed and lean, wire-thin and oddly fragile compared to her solid frame.

None of them sees what he hides from the rest.

He jokes enough about his scars that it's a running gag, and "taking a rocket to the face" has become his go-to story for the newcomers. Even Wrex gives a nod of approval. They're a cocksure dare, a hard-won badge, a manifestation of losses and victories openly worn on the right side of his face. They also drive the ladies wild; or rather, they would if he weren't already a one-human turian. Naturally, he never passes up an opportunity to tell her that, canting his head at an angle for the ship lights to accentuate the ribbed flesh creeping up his neck, but neither does he realize the way his hand gingerly fingers them every so often, especially when he thinks no one is looking.

He treats his healed injuries as a joke or a lucky deformity because that's how he copes, but they're none of those things, not at all. Intricate striations break up his colony markings, splitting his face in two to illustrate that insecure ex-cop he used to be and the confident leader he's grown into. The top layer of skin's been taken off along with the bandages to reveal the pink-and-gray discoloration crisscrossing over his delicately edged mandible, the end of it now frayed but no less whole. Scarring licks the side of his mouth like tiny flames, tiny claws, tiny etchings that silently lay out his checkered history—a work of art on his face, and he doesn't even know it.

Shepard keeps quiet though and listens to him tell his tales and poke fun at his looks in front of the crew, but later in her cabin, she'll kiss every inch of that marred, flawless skin as a reflection of what's been broken inside of her, but robbed of the scars to prove it.